Although made in 1970, this film was clearly shot on a shoestring 1950’s budget by one of my favorite B-movie directors, Mohammed Hussain. It features a very carelessly put-together plot in the hands of a very beefy (some more uncharitable than I might call him paunchy) Dara Singh and his pals Bhagwan and Agha, who are actually very funny—yes, the Comic Side Plot entertains! Opposite Dara is the very lovely Shabnam, and they are supported by the goodness that is Madan Puri and Shetty as bad people. The songs by Dattaram are very lovely too. It shares a lot of quirky Hussain characteristics with the fab CID 909, although it’s a bit more muddled and not quite as much fun. It does make an adequate alternative for a rainy day’s watching if you’re in the mood for wacky nicknames and silly disguises and don’t need much of a story.
As the film opens, there is a gang of smugglers looting Mother India, led by goonda Kalu (Shetty). They are being harassed and thwarted by a masked man they call “Choron Ka Chor.” When Kalu spots a little boy named Raju (Master Ripple) watching them one day, he kidnaps him thinking that he’s spying for the hated Choron Ka Chor.
Luckily for little Raju, Choron Ka Chor (Dara Singh) has hidden himself in the warehouse and rescues him. This does not go down well with Kalu’s boss, Madanlal (Madan Puri), who also runs a club where his girlfriend Sophia (Jayshree T) dances, and who uses nonsense words to express his love by comparing her to a fine whiskey. So sweet!
Madan calls up his associates and tells them of Choron Ka Chor’s latest derring-do, and they are not happy either.
I wish my meeting agendas at work were like that. Also, I wish people wore fake mouche-beards and thick glasses to hide their identities. Alas, my job is nothing like a Hindi B-movie.
In any case, Raju’s mother (Indira Bansal) is blaming his cousin Rupa (Shabnam) for losing track of him, yes, at the fair. They are greatly relieved when he reappears in the company of our Choron Ka Chor, also known as Ashok.
Ashok himself lives with his younger sister Beena (Meena T). She is in love with her classmate Rajesh (Roopesh Kumar), and confides in her brother.
When the smuggling gang convenes, there is a dancing troupe outside with musicians Makhan (Agha) and Lakhan (Bhagwan) and the dancer below (does anybody recognize her? Is she Paro or Neelam maybe?). They sing a lively dance tune (“O Bandhu Suno Patli Qamar”) which I love.
Makhan and Lakhan are masters of disguise, it turns out, and they are also spying on the smugglers for Ashok.
Ashok himself doesn’t recognize them sometimes when they show up to give him information.
Ashok also meets up with Rupa again when he rescues her from an eve-teaser and then gives her a lift to the market where she sells baskets for a living. She is constantly criticized by her aunt, but Raju always sticks up for her and since he’s the apple of his mother’s eye he manages to make things a little easier for her. Still, it’s not much of a home life!
She confides in Ashok that they owe 15,000 Rs to a moneylender and if they don’t pay him back soon they will lose their house. Up until now Choron Ka Chor has only been making sure the smugglers’ activities are disrupted and then made known to the police, but at their next meeting he does something new: he robs them.
I so love Jayshree T’s outfits throughout this film. He sends the money to Rupa so that she can pay off the moneylender.
She recognizes the handkerchief that the money comes wrapped in as Ashok’s and smiles that smile of one who knows she is loved, and who loves in return. Meanwhile Ashok is working with Makhan and Lakhan to find out the gang’s next steps.
Lakhan poses as a telephone repair man (there is a lot of talking on the phone amongst the gang members) and knocks out Mr. X. Ashok disguises himself as X and attends the next gang meeting about a large consignment of gold coming in from abroad (via a wooden gori extra called Miss William). Unfortunately, Lakhan’s tying-up skills are not as great as his disguises, and the real Mr. X frees himself and calls Madan during the meeting. The meeting, by the way, could have been accomplished easily by telephone itself, especially given how fond they all are of using it. These are the meeting minutes:
Madanlal: At 5:00 Miss William’s ship will deliver the gold. Then we will pay Miss William. Okay?
Anyway, thanks to Mr. X Choron Ka Chor’s identity is revealed, and we are treated to a lot of dishoom-dishoom.
Meanwhile Kalu for some reason has kidnapped Rupa and Raju. Raju cleverly takes the keys out of Kalu’s Ambassador while Kalu is driving it, stopping the car. He and Rupa jump out and run, chased by Kalu, and Rupa is hit by Ashok in the jeep he’s escaping from the gang in. The result is predictable.
Ashok promises the doctor that he will get the money necessary for the eye operation to restore Rupa’s sight. He decides to rob Seth Dhaniram, who has gotten rich from smuggling, and who also (unbeknownst to him) happens to be his sister Beena’s boyfriend Rajesh’s father. Incidentally, I have left lots of little details out of this narrative, including Rajesh and Beena’s Beach Blanket Bingo style romancing (and another great song, “O Mere Dildar”).
Mr. X follows Ashok and shoots Dhaniram, who names Choron Ka Chor as his murderer before he dies.
What will happen next? Will Ashok be framed for Dhaniram’s murder? Has he lost his moral compass in his need for money? Will Rajesh still want to marry Beena when he finds out who Choron Ka Chor is? Will Rupa recover her vision, and can the smugglers be stopped before they run our beloved country and its economy into the ground? (It’s a very preachy film in places!) Despite further goodies like another good song, hot pokers and a spiked wall, plus Shetty and Dara Singh mudwrestling, I would only rate this as lukewarm fun. I’m not sure why exactly, except maybe that Helen needed to be in it.